Firefighters 1992 scheme – Active
Can I make voluntary payments to increase my benefits?
If you are an active member of the Scheme, and will not be able to count 30 years' pensionable service by normal pension age (55) you can elect to "buy" additional 60ths.
The additional 60ths would count not only in the assessment of your own pension, but in the assessment of widow(er)'s, civil partner's and children's benefits. They would not, however, be taken into account for assessing entitlement to benefits, e.g. you cannot count them towards the 25 years' pensionable service needed for retirement at or after age 50 and before 55, or towards service used for assessing entitlement to an ill-health pension.
To buy the additional 60ths you would pay additional contributions. The amount of additional contributions will depend upon your age at the birthday following your election to make the payments, and how many additional 60ths you wish to purchase. The Scheme Actuary provides factors from which the fire and rescue authority will determine the cost. (WYPF can give you a quotation and further details if you are interested in this option.)
An election to pay additional contributions must be made at least 2 years before normal pension age (55) and may only be made by a person who had not attained age 46 when last becoming a firefighter. Also, the fire and rescue authority may require you to undergo a medical examination (at your own expense) to satisfy them of your good health.
The additional contributions would be deducted with effect from your first birthday following your election, along with your basic contributions and will continue to be deducted until normal pension age.
Once you have begun paying the contributions, if you retire with an ill-health pension or die in service, benefits payable to you or your dependants respectively, would take into account the full number of 60ths you elected to “buy” in your election.
Should you leave or retire in other circumstances, before reaching normal pension age, you would be credited with the appropriate portion of 60ths “purchased” to date.
If you decide to proceed with buying additional 60ths then you are contracted to pay until age 55. There are no provisions within the scheme which allow you to stop making payments before the completion date. Contracts can only be stopped early by application to your fire authority on the grounds of severe financial hardship.
If this method of improving retirement benefits is not open to you or you prefer some other method of providing additional income in retirement you could, if you wish, pay free-standing voluntary contributions ("FSAVCs") to a life assurance company or similar, or set up a personal or stakeholder pension in addition to your membership of the FPS1992. However, these arrangements cannot be made through the FPS1992 and the fire and rescue authority would not be permitted to advise you. You may find it helpful to seek the assistance of a qualified and registered independent financial adviser if you consider these options. (Financial advisers may charge for their services.)
If you are a taper protected member you can elect to purchase additional service whilst you are a member of FPS1992 but this option will no longer be available once you transition to the 2015 scheme and the contract will cease on that date.